FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON It’s Game 3 of the Carolina Mudcats’ four-game home set with the Chattanooga Lookouts, and the home team is starting to think about a sweep.

Mudcats pitcher Scott Carroll
  • Photo by Nikolaus © 2010 Carolina Mudcats
  • Mudcats pitcher Scott Carroll

The Mudcats are back tied for first place in the Southern League’s North Division as they go into the 25th game of the second half, while Chattanooga hasn’t won a game in a week.

Game time temperature is reasonable in the high 80s, a brief respite for what is apparently going to happen later this week.

Scott Carroll (2-4) will take the hill for Carolina tonight against Lookouts southpaw Brent Leach (4-2).

It’s not a good night for the home team, as the Lookouts roll to an 8-1 victory.

Chattanooga takes the lead in the first, as Smithfield-Selma High product Jerry Sands reaches on a one-out fielder’s-choice ball to short, steals second and scores on Corey Smith’s single to left.

The Lookouts add two in the second. With one out Mike Rivera walks, followed by Kyle Russell’s double to center. With two out, Dee Gordon strokes a two-run double to left.

The Mudcats finally scratch in the third. Carroll rips a one-out double to right, takes third on Kris Negron’s single to right and scores on Felix Perez’ grounder to second.

The Lookouts tack on another with a two-out rally in the fourth. Gordon walks and steals second, then steals third and continues home on a throwing error from catcher Devin Mesoraco.

They add two more in the seventh off Jesus Delgado. Gordon leads off with an infield single to short, and then with one out Sands walks. Smith hits an RBI single to right, and then Ramon Nivar picks up an RBI with a fielder’s-choice ball to third.

It gets worse for the Mudcats in the eighth, as Eddy Perez leads off the Lookouts’ inning with a single to center and scores on Gordon’s triple to left. Sands then hits a sacrifice fly to right to make it 8-1.

Gordon leads the Lookouts with four hits including a triple and a double with three stolen bases and three RBI. Local boy Sands scores twice and drives in a run. Leach has a quality start, allowing a run on five hits with three strikeouts against a walk.

Carroll goes six innings in the loss, allowing four runs — three earned — on four hits with five walks and three strikeouts.

Here’s what they said …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “Gordon is going to be a good one. Obviously he’s a big part of their lineup. It started with the first pitch of the game and he had a great night. Carroll was good, and he got better as the game went on. The last few innings were his best, so that’s a good sign. Now we get to come back out at 12 tomorrow.”

Chattanooga manager Carlos Subero: “We were playing great baseball until we hit that wall and lost seven in a row. It was great to see the guys come out the way they did today. Dee Gordon did his baserunning and got his hits. Leach did a great job getting the win against a team that’s in first place. Sands has done a great job for us since coming up from Low-A. They pitch him tough, but he’s done a great job making the adjustments.”

Sands: “There’s definitely been an adjustment for me coming up to this level. Pitchers are consistent and they all have several pitches they can throw for strikes. … It’s been fun playing in front of so many friends and family for the last three days. I’ve had a lot of people out here and it’s been great.”

What does it all mean?

That the Mudcats are still tied for first despite it all.

Stars of the game
1. Gordon.
2. Leach.
3. Carroll.

Play of the game
Gordon’s two-run single in the second.

Season series
Mudcats lead 11-9.

Carolina: Lost 1.
Chattanooga: Won 1.

Carolina: P Jesus Delgado assigned from Louisville. P Ruben Medina assigned to Lynchburg.
Chattanooga: None.

On deck
Chattanooga at Mudcats, Tuesday, noon.

Mario Alvarez (R, 5-5, 5.09) vs. Tom Cochran (L, 7-3, 2.47)